Cranford is not ready to settle for a consolation game.
Last week the Cougars were on the outside looking in, ninth in the power point standings in North 2, Group 3.
This week – after a convincing 34-21 home win over Hillside and a big 21-13 victory by Mountain Lakes over Newark West Side – Cranford (5-3) is perched in the sixth slot.
It now appears that this will be the seventh straight season that the Cougars make the playoffs.
Before qualifying in North 2, Group 3 for the second time in 2011, Cranford made the playoffs only four times previously – all in different sections.
Cranford qualified in North 2, Group 3 again from 2011-2015 and last year made the grade for the first time in Central Jersey, Group 3.
Back in North 2, Group 3 again, if the playoffs began this weekend the Cougars would be playing at third-seeded Voorhees (7-1). Cranford lost at Voorhees 35-0 back on Sept. 15.
However, we have this weekend to go before the final official seedings shake out.
Asked if he could appreciate a best-case scenario 7-3 finish if the Cougars didn’t make the playoffs, Cranford standout senior middle linebacker Dylan Budnik said, “we’re not looking for 7-3. We want to make the playoffs. We feel like we’re a playoff team.”
Excellent special teams play lifted Cranford to its fifth win. Josiah Cadet recovered a loose ball that bounced off the foot of a Hillside player attempting to return a punt, Rob Schork blocked a punt that led to a score, Joshua Cadet returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown and senior placekicker Valentino Ambrosio had a game-to-remember kicking the ball.
Valentino made field goal attempts of 24 and 45 yards and all seven of his kickoffs reached and/or went out of the end zone for seven touchbacks.
Ambrosio has now made eight of 10 field goal attempts this year. His career long is 48 yards, produced last year.
Now in his second year at Cranford after playing his first two at Roselle Park, Ambrosio began kicking field goals at Roselle Park’s field the summer before his freshman campaign.
“I just started to kick the football and made a field goal from 45 yards out without a shoe (just socks),” Ambrosio said. “I never looked back.”
Ambrosio said that he had aspirations of playing soccer at the next level before moving over to football.
His 45-yarder vs. Hillside split the uprights in half and had plenty of leg. It would have been good from 50 yards out.
“I have a couple of Division 1 scholarship offers for soccer, but I’m waiting for one for football,” Ambrosio said. “It’s a dream of mine now to play professional football.”
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE:
Thursday, Nov. 2 (1 game)
Elizabeth at Bridgewater-Raritan, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 3 (9 games)
Hunterdon Central at Union, 7 p.m.
Linden at Franklin, 7 p.m.
Rahway at North Plainfield, 7 p.m.
Delaware Valley at Cranford, 7 p.m.
Gov. Livingston at Johnson, 7 p.m.
Roselle at Bound Brook, 7 p.m.
New Providence at Belvidere, 7 p.m.
Manville at Roselle Park, 7 p.m.
Dayton at South Hunterdon, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 4 (3 games)
Brearley at Hillside, 1 p.m.
Scotch Plains at Westfield, 2 p.m.
Somerville at Summit, 2 p.m.
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS:
Friday, Oct. 27 (8 games)
Bridgewater-Raritan 28, Union 13
Ridge 17, Elizabeth 14
Summit 34, Rahway 14
Cranford 34, Hillside 21
Johnson 41, North Plainfield 20
Delaware Valley 28, Gov. Livingston 6
Brearley 29, New Providence 28
Bound Brook 42, Dayton 0
Saturday, Oct .28 (2 games)
Linden 34, Plainfield 0
Somerville 82, Scotch Plains 46
Off: Roselle Park, Roselle, Westfield.
THIS WEEK’S PICKS (13):
Bridgewater-Raritan over Elizabeth
Union over Hunterdon Central
Linden over Franklin
Rahway over North Plainfield
Cranford over Delaware Valley
Johnson over Gov. Livingston
Bound Brook over Roselle
Belvidere over New Providence
Roselle Park over Manville
Dayton over South Hunterdon
Hillside over Brearley
Westfield over Scotch Plains
Somerville over Summit
Best bet: Rahway
Upset special: Roselle Park
Last week: 7-3
This year: 60-34 (.638)
Best bets: 7-2
Upset specials: 2-7
JR’s UNION COUNTY
Roselle Park (5-2)
Gov. Livingston (1-6)
New Providence (0-7)
Scotch Plains (0-8)
UNION COUNTY FOOTBALL TEAMS IN PLAYOFFS
WITH ONE WEEKEND TO GO:
NORTH 2, GROUP 1:
NORTH 2, GROUP 3:
4-Summit. 6-Cranford. 7-Rahway.
NORTH 2, GROUP 4:
NORTH 2, GROUP 5:
CENTRAL JERSEY, GROUP 2:
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN:
North 2, Group 1 – 9-Brearley.
Central Jersey, Group 2 – 9-Roselle.
2017 MID-STATE 38 CONFERENCE DIVISION WINNERS:
Delaware – Phillipsburg (5-0) outright
Mountain – Somerville (4-1) outright
Raritan – North Hunterdon (4-0) outright
Union – Bound Brook (5-1) outright
Valley – Johnson (5-0) outright
Watchung – Westfield (5-0) outright
Westfield’s final division game is home on Thanksgiving vs. Plainfield.
Somerville repeated as Mountain Division champion.
Bound Brook repeated as Union Division champion.
Westfield 3-peated as Watchung Division champion.